Monday, November 23, 2009

Ajilvsga – From the Muddy Banks of the Arkansas [Near Passerine Devotionals]

It’s been a little while since I’d heard something from Ajilvsga, the duo of Brad Rose (the Digitalis empire) and Nathan Young (who the press release states emphatically is “NOT the Wolf Eyes guy.”) So when I got this pretty LP, the debut release from Toronto-area upstart label, Near Passerine Devotionals, I was psyched check it out.
I’ll have to go back through my stack of Ajilvsga tapes cause I never remember these guys sounding this heavy and fucking desolate. I sure hope these dude’s lives are going well cause in this age of “hope,” these guys are nothing but doom and gloom. The A-side titled “Gnarled Roots, Leaves, Rushing Water” kicks off with layers of dense synthesizer that only gets denser by the second. Rose and Young forge such a monolithic maelstrom it’s difficult to actually pick out everything that’s going on. There’s usually a layer or two pulsing in various ways, keeping the track surging forward and there’s something I’m just picking up on this listen that has sort of a looped music box vibe which I like a lot. I’d say around a third of the way in everything slides up in pitch a little bit that, if it weren’t for the complete pitch blackness that came before and comes after, I might say I is a little uplifting. The duo riffs on this section for a little while whipping up some oscillator manipulations before a dive back down into the depths. This is a harrowing journey into an incredibly intense soundworld. One of the strongest elements is that as active as Young and Rose are during this piece and with all the electronic dirt they kick up, “Gnarled Roots, Leaves, Rushing Water” never loses its singular batholithic impenetrability. It reminds me of my favorite samurai flick The Sword of Doom where you are lead down an unrelenting path of such darkness that by the end you are crushed and broken by the shadows and unstoppable evil. So that said, it’s a damn fun listen.
I do, however, think the second side is even better. “Dead, White, Lifeless” creeps along with a sub-bass undertow and a looped percussive hit. This side is simpler, more focused and arguably more powerful. It’s hard not to get lost in this. Maybe “lost” isn't the exact term I’m looking for but it is difficult not to succumb to the track’s sinister, chilling vibe. The piece doesn’t change a whole lot throughout its runtime, and it doesn’t have to. The demonic dedication is the whole point. I dare you to listen to this and not get the shivers. Eden Hemming Rose pushes the track beyond its serpentine slither with her drugged banshee vocals. Her voice (and whatever effects she’s singing through) creates an eerie, gothic cathedral choir-like aura that just really elevates the creepiness of the whole affair. The last few minutes see the duo expand the scope of the track pouring on more white noise and splicing in a few slivers of melody. This record is like a natural disaster.
Props also go to Evan Caminiti (of Barn Owl) for the perfect, Medusa-like black/silver artwork. Limited to 300 so book your tickets to the underworld ASAP.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Widow Babies – Jet Packs [olFactory]

I’ve been jamming this record a lot as I’ve been freezing my ass off in these colder than death, pre- winter(!) months. I keep hoping that these fun, tropical pop/punk sounds will transport me to June in that Millennium Falcon on the sleeve. No such luck yet but I have gotten to listen to this record a lot which is a reward in itself.
After their Minutemen-tribute (whom they also thank in the final track) The Mike Watt EP, Jet Packs is The Widow Babies' debut LP or half of an LP to be more exact, though since they crammed 13 tracks on a single-side I’m calling it a full-length.
“Harp of 1000 Strings” sets the tone for the record. A killer jangly, clean-tone arpeggio drives the track with a surf-rock-meets-a-steel-drum vibe. The rest of the band gives the guitarist steady backing as exuberant vocals snark their way through the song. “Possibilities at Sea” finds the rhythm section getting into the grooves with machine gun snare hits and some great rubber band basslines. The track, like many of the others, morphs a little during its minute and a half length, carrying the same spirit throughout but avoids falling into the standard verse/chorus format. “Pyramids” has another killer riff (the record is full of them) and some of the vocalist’s best work when she falls into an effortless, relaxed nearly speech-like vocal-style that I hope she explores more in the future.
Perhaps my favorite on the record is “Carmen y Pipo” which has the best opening riff on the record and each member is totally on point. The song just comes together beautifully. “Arboreal Womb” has a great breakdown and then out of nowhere the band busts out a bombastic howl then switches gears again to nervy free jazz in the span of about 15 seconds before calling it quits. “Brillo Pad’s Theme” is another highlight cause it’s one of the best written, thought-out songs on the album. The various syncopated parts lock together tightly and the guitar plays a more subtle role adding melodic shading more than central riffs. I like “Moon Milk” a lot too cause it changes things up a little with the excellent addition of marimba. The marimba and guitar basically mirror each other during an extended melodic breakdown on the first go round so when the guitar ends the piece with the same melody it seems different, more solitary and focused. It’s a really simple trick but it’s effective in adding an extra punch to the finale. And it’s just a great melody anyway.
“Odin’s Rainbow” kicks the energy back up after the slower “Moon Milk” with great raw and riotous drumming. The half-time ending of “Score for a Migration” is a nice change-up leading into “Silver or Lead,” another favorite. It’s got a bunch more great guitar melodies and spirited vocals. “We Can Clone an Orange” closes out the album with a more straightforward rhythm and even a lilting bass breakdown.
It’s a fun record for sure, more fun than even the Star Trek/Star Wars references on the sleeve, and my only real criticism is that each song is cut from the same jittery, tropical pop cloth. It’s a pleasure to listen to but the songs, though good, do sound very similar to each other. But considering people listen to the same drone over a 20 minute side, this criticism is more of a suggestion to broaden the palette than calling out a harmful problem. The Widow Babies obviously have their shit down, they make a mean jangly, loose-limbed pop song, so I would be interested to see what other directions they can push their sound into. I bet the results would be something pretty great.
So the jams are real good but I must mention what a damn fine job olFactory did putting this together. The LP comes on clear vinyl with the tunes on one-side and a bright blue design screen printed on the flipside consisting of a giant snake chasing its tail and has fun items such a cop car and a handgun in its belly. There’s also a figure (maybe a surfer?) running along outer edge, flipbook-style. And since the record is clear you can watch it all while listening! Pretty sweet… I have say I was pretty blown away when I first opened it up.
So, anyway if this sounds like your thing then you got a record to buy.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #47 (11/22/09)

Sean McCann “Wait Over There” Phylum Sigh [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CD)

Summon Thrull “Cannibalized” Summon Thrull [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

The Spread Eagles “Don’t Be a Drag” Don’t Be a Drag [9-11 is a Joke 2009] (7”)

ID M Theft Able “Untitled” Split with Cave Bears [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Xray Eyeballs “Broken Beds” Xray Eyeballs [Night People 2009] (CS)

Nomen Dubium “Desert City Summer” Psyched Punched [DNT 2009] (2xCS)

Hammer of Hathor “Bee” False Teef [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Nodolby “Automatic Mydriasis. Dream Weapon's Pivotal Guidance” Nodolby [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Padna “Tapewars” Siberia/Hinterland [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Tricorn & Queue “Untitled” Ashes Wander [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Donato Epiro “Ella S La Mia Farfalla” Sounding the Sun [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Plankton Wat “The Magic Citadel” Dawn of the Golden Eternity [DNT 2009] (LP)

Megabats “Bag Lady” IN/OUT [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Cordyceps Unilateralis “åolian Process (01-06-09)” Unreleased [No Label 2009] (mp3)

Zebu! “Rover the Radio, Over” Bag of Sand [Feeding Tube 2008] (LP)

Andrew Coltrane & Mike Khoury “Untitled” 1000 Basements [Detroit Improvisation 2009] (CD-r)

Cave Bears “Germicide (excerpt)” Split with ID M Theft Able [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Bird Names “If I had a Carriage” Recession Vacation [Really Coastal 2009] (CS)

Mist “Stole Colors” Stole Colors [Pizza Wagon 2009] (2xCS)

Burial Hex “Go Crystal Tears” Split with Zola Jesus [Aurora Borealis 2009] (LP)

Pig Heart Transplant “How to Survive in the Woods” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ID M Theft Able/Cave Bears - Zone Y Ponds Y Sugars I've/Germicide [Feeding Tube]/Cave Bears – Jazz Hands [Serf Released]

This LP (well I have a CD-r version) unites two of the weirdest of North-eastern weirdos, ID M Theft Able and Cave Bears. Feeding Tube records, a certifiable weirdo in its own right which is also responsible for the best youtube channel ever (!), put it out.
Believe it or not, I’d never heard any of ID M Theft Able’s stuff before so needless to say I was excited to see what the hubbub was about. I have to say it surpasses my expectations (though I’m not sure what I actually “expected.”) Anyhow, his side is split into 5 tracks, the first being a short one balancing recordings of kids singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” or whatever that song is called with eerie organ and crooning. The second track features all manners of percussive, noisy sounds with unintelligible vocals. It’s bizarre, cut-up shit but the dude’s pulling from so many places (samples of someone slurping, a field recording of a jungle?) that you can’t help but get into the madman energy. Plus there’s a recording of a drunken person calling someone a “jackass!” which makes me laugh pretty hard. The track returns often to a sample of what sounds like coins dropping and a haggard croon. Some sections capture the dynamics of aggressive harsh noise without completely drenching everything in distortion. Composing with such strange source material gives ID M’s music a much different, unique texture. It’s not just the source material though, it’s the skill with which he wields it that makes his work stand out. The third jam has gotta be the LPs single. It’s a weird little fucker that grooves relentlessly on a synth/percussion loop with strange samples and a croaking Tom Waits-ish voice (I’m guessing this is ID M himself) that’s making all the ladies swoon with his deep, soulful vowels. So damn weird but totally addictive. The next track is reminiscent of the second one but maybe a little sparser at times and at others indulges in more of the harsh noise vibes without getting too busy for a few plucked guitar/banjo notes here and there. The jowly grunts make another creepy appearance around halfway through over a short lived but strangely normal arrangement. Of course the track the veers back into sonic psychosis. The thing I dig about it though is it has a very, very loose verse/chorus structure. It’s not a pop song by any stretch of the imagination, but different segments that happened previously show up later. The final track messes around with slicing/dicing drum programming over a loop of mellow feedback. It’s actually pretty scaled back considering the audio onslaught that just occurred over the previous 15 minutes. It’s a nice respite though to end on a vaguely standard percussion+melody+voice-style piece. Dude’s got a great sense of proportion, what can I say. I don’t know how this stuff stacks up to his other work but I can say this is pretty damn good and I’m kinda bummed I wasted all this time not checking out his stuff. Really weird and really dense, and by the way has this guy had anything on Ultra Eczema yet?
Cave Bears turn in a 20 minute live recording called “Germicide” (EDIT: just discovered through some googling that this set consists entirely of Germs covers--hence the title--which is fuckin' rad as hell though I'll be damned if I can recognize any of them.) After the first song a riotous, scatterbrained guitar/drums/vox assault, which is around a minute twenty, the band says they’re done and a priceless moment occurs when an audience member exclaims “That’s it!? That’s all!?!!” in disbelief with a hint of feeling like the victim of unthinkable betrayal. Luckily Cave Bears continue on, eventually, after a long bout of amp hum and people shuffling around they get started, sort of. Nonsensical, slurred vocals eventually take the lead over a slippery snare drum and occasional input from guitar. There’s a great oddball guitar solo in there as well. Cave Bears seem to push rock music about as far as it will go while still being categorize-able as rock music. Their “pop” songs have a weirdly amorphous quality where the songs move in a general direction but each of the instruments kinda bobs and weaves in it’s own way down the same path. It’s surprisingly listenable cause most of the bands that go for the non-pop music thing just end up making shitty pop music. It’s also amorphous in the way that (besides the initial song) the other songs just kind of stretch and blur seamlessly or organically into the next ramshackle stomp. I wonder what it’s like to see these guys play with the relentlessly buoyant drummer, the angular skronk mechanics of the guitarist and whoever is doing the blank, sloshed vocals. Each element seems in it’s own world at times which weirdly makes sense in the all-enveloping Cave Bears world they’re playing in so I wonder how that essence manifests itself in the physical world.
This tape entitled Jazz Hands is one of the many CB cassettes put out on their label Serf Released. This tape is really anything-goes with the only possible guideline being the material must be recorded on degraded tape. In the first piece there’s weird disco or techno or something mixed alongside drum solos and jazzy guitar chords all shrouded in a perma-static blanket. The second piece is only a minute long but touches on slow piano pieces and frantic drum machine programming. The third piece has a bit of an ID M Theft Able vibe with scrambled, gnarled tape noise and frenetic rhythmic wrecks. The track moves between searing, noisy sections, mellow slowed tape loop segments and other parts with a vigorous drummer pounding away excitedly. A bit of a live recording is spliced in there. What I appreciate about a lot of the bands in New England is that you never really know what the hell you’ll hear next. Don’t know if it’s something in the seafood or what but nothing is off-limits for these people and more often than not it’s pretty good stuff. This piece moves into a killer nearly hypnotic section before segueing into broken down sing-alongs and split second clips of R&B. I love the next piece (these are just “pieces” as I determine them, there’s no tracklist) which is a recording a little over a minute of some small accordion-led ensemble. It’s steeped in grainy static and I literally don’t know where they found it but it provides a fleeting, melodic lilt in the middle of tape; an excellent choice to include it. The next piece consists of a series of screams that I don’t much care for at first but around halfway through something begins to accompany the screams though everything is so blown out and fuzzy I really can’t say what it is. Despite that though it gives the jam a strong rhythmic presence. The next one is a really fuckin’ zonked (due to pitch shifting) banjo and voice duet that I guess would qualify as a ballad, barely. I like an odd little keyboard piece that pops in the second half that segues into Forbbiden Planet-ish spaced out synth warbles. Next piece ends up with a jaunty little banjo-led ditty which yields to the wild noise and cheers of the second half. The next piece underneath all the warped electronics is a couple of acoustic instruments and a stereo playing Texan blues. The tape closes with a repetition of a 4-second loop of free jazz. The flipside has also blown out, also awesome foreign-language pop music that ranges just about every badass popular musical form from 50s rock n’ roll to Tex-mex(!). I have no idea who the band is but it sounds like something from Asia, maybe Thailand, but it’s seriously pretty fucking awesome. Even if you can’t get into the Bears’ loopiness I guaran-goddamn-tee you you’d love this stuff. Total bonus.
So yeah, in conclusion, Jazz Hands is a weird fucking tape but quite charming overall. It’s what you might expect from a band that defines songwriting as “a collaboration between tape and a magnet” (one of the few revealing nuggets I dug up on their website which is as befuddling as their music)
Both items are still available and look amazing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Super Special 3" CD-r Round-up!

Direct Shadows is the latest Rambutan triple-incher, released on Frank Baugh’s (Sparkling Wide Pressure) KimberlyDawn label. Rambutan is, of course, Eric Hardiman of Burnt Hills/Century Plants/Tape Drift records fame but it’s his solo guise that appears to be really taking flight this year. The disc is cut in half fairly cleanly with “Direct Shadow” taking up the first half. The piece moves slowly, with Hardiman controlling pulsing, strictly minimal tones. It has the feel a deep space transmission you might stumble upon with a serendipitous flick of the radio dial. It’s an isolating, moody piece that feels like it will go on infinitely, whether anyone is listening or not, and somebody just happened to record 8 minutes and 14 seconds of it. “Empty Sleep” takes up my favorite Rambutan mantle which is when Hardiman goes for jittery, tranced out grooves. The piece reminds me slightly of Ren Schofield’s (God Willing) minimal techno project Container. This track definitely isn’t techno, but it has the same sort of repetitive sci-fi pitter-patter that builds and interlocks into a strange, twisted, dripping mass. With a few minutes to go Hardiman busts out this synthish melody (though it may actually be guitar) that comes out of nowhere but is so ingrained in the preexisting rhythmic framework that it seems like the topper the piece had secretly been working towards along. If you don’t know Eric’s work, check it out.
It’s not often you get 11 tracks on a 3” CD-r but that is exactly what Spade & Archer has given us with Sullo Scaffale released on Bloomington, IN's Auris Apothecary. The dude covers a lot of different terrain over those 11 tracks as well. The sub-minute “Purple Tulips” starts things off with a stomping, mid-tempo DJ Shadow-esque intro before moving suddenly into rhythmic full band rock mode in “Judge and Jury” driven by a rumbling bass line and is eventually given a nice send off of atmospheric piano. “Window Business” is more aggressive with more distortion and wild hit-every-drum-as-fast-as-I-can-style drumming which ends up being a keyboard/drum rave-up. “Yeti” has the same feel but it comes off with a “sampled” sounding vibe, which is kinda cool. “Bell Crawl” provide a brief breather of grainy acoustic guitar and, as you might expect, a bell set. “Cool Breeze” has a kind of smooth jazz vibe which is a little jarring and in all honesty I’m not really feeling it. What I am feeling however is “Fifteen Stories High” a little minute and a half treasure nestled in the middle of the album. Looped drums, piano and guitar make this lovely, groovy, melodic Menomena-esque cell that sadly doesn’t live long before the tempo and volume get jacked up and the piece closes out with a rhythmic mad dash. “Faraar Gil” matches thumping drums with sprinting, spacey piano lines that almost takes on a free rock sensibility which is surprising cause everything is so precise. “Floodwaters” is the default epic at 4:23. Most of the album is these brief, little nuggets that establish their point usually in a matter of seconds, “Floodwaters” is a bit more leisurely in establishing itself. It’s pleasant to listen to but also doesn’t really lead anywhere over its four minutes. “The Short Lines” is pretty jammin’ though. It’s got a great low-end piano melody (with a killer countermelody as well) and lively energy about it that makes me miss the heyday of piano-driven rock bands like Pleasure Forever and The Get Hustle. “Yeti Guen” wraps things up with a shuffling drum and sitar loop, the most straight up hip-hop-influenced track on here.
Static and Distance is a single 21 minute track from Brooklyn- based Millions and released on the also Brooklyn- based Obsolete Units. The piece is bathed in thick, shimmering, digital fog. With many, many layers of synth dissolving into each other. An interesting note is that the jacket states “all sounds by David Suss recorded October 2008” and also “Certain elements performed by David Suss and Mike Magill recorded live to mobile phone July 18 2008” I’m not really sure how both those statements can be true but everything in “Static and Distance” sounds pretty single minded and of its own so maybe the former is somehow true. I certainly can’t tell any distinctions between what’s Suss and what’s Suss/Magill. Anyway, let’s not get off the subject. Around halfway through a great, slowly bending synth adds a phenomenally effective seasick vibe to the piece. The track continues to travel deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole into a monolithic mass of buzz and hum and shimmer and sinister effervescence. This thing is so thick it’s incredible. I have to constantly redirect my listening trying to catch all of the seemingly endless amounts of layers here. The last few minutes make it slightly easier as Suss introduces a little breathing room to the piece during its slow fade. It’s interesting how weirdly oppressive this piece is considering there’s very little distortion, any “noise” is pretty mild and static-y, and the palette is closer to new agey synth stuff. Maybe that’s Suss’s bag, killin’ ‘em with kindness.
Build Your Bed in a Burning House by Blackbeard and released on the Dynamo! imprint isn’t technically a 3inch CD-r (it’s a regular old 5 incher) but it contains a single 16 minute track, well within the means a 3” provides, so I’m throwing it in here. This thing is all over the place; it starts with some kid talking before a looped organ and simple drumbeat start up with distorted speech panned back and forth over them eventually fading into distorted tones. Synth burbles, electric guitar, two note keyboard melodies all overtake the track in a disjointed fashion, pairing heavily filtered oscillator squelch and funeral home organ which is in turn usurped by a recitation of the classic Freaks moment (“One of us/Gooble Gobble”) recast as a one-man sports game crowd cheer. A marching din of distorted electric guitar layers that at some point becomes a loose, vaguely new-wave-inspired jam rock guitar solo sesh. A heavily reverbed, sort of creepy, piano and vocal thing that eventually terminates with a minute long playing of automated answering machine messages that I wish I hadn’t spent the time listening to. All you WTFheads out there, this thing’s for you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #46 (11/15/09)

Chapels “Beggar” Last Night of Earth [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Cro Magnon “Crop Circles” Split with Circuit des Yeux/Bird [Goaty Tapes] (CS)

Dubbio Nil “Seed, Fruit, Thorn (excerpt)” Seed, Fruit, Thorn [Hymns 2009] (3” CD-r)

Arnau Sala “Voluntad D'agressió Pura with Juan Matos Capote” La Joia L'agredir [Circuit Torçat 2009] (CS)

Teenage Panzerkorps “Shopping Blitz” Games for Slaves [Siltbreeze 2008] (LP)

Muscletusk “Side A” Muscletusk [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Buckets of Bile “Solver” Split with Paid in Puke [Speed Tapes 2009] (CS)

Alphabets “Euphoria” Nature Nature [No Label 2009] (mp3)

Rambutan “Middle Altar” Broken Infinity [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Stellar OM Source “Sand Lie” Crusader [No Label 2008] (CD-r)

Cough Cool “Sinking Soul” Digestible Doom [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Puffy Areolas “Noble Rot” Final High [No Label 2009] (CS)

Mood Organ “Untitled” Visiting a Burning Museum [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Futuresport “Hibernation Pt. 2” White Chimneys [905 Tapes 2009] (CS)

Uneven Universe “Side A” Live at Cosmic Beach [Excite Bike Tapes 2009] (CS)

Grasshopper “Smokey Nights, Melting Flesh” Split with Twisty Cat [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Twisty Cat “Sedenion” Split with Grasshopper [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Nicholas Szczepanik “We Define Everything in Desperation” The Chiasmus [Sentient Recognition Archive/Basses Frequencies 2009] (CD)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Charly “the city mouse” Fasano - Whiskey Won't Cure Clap [Fast Geek Press]

I wasn’t sure what I was gonna think about this tape cause talking/telling stories over music doesn’t usually sit with me just right (I’m quite a fervent Hold Steady detractor amongst a certain group of friends) but anyway this Fasano dude’s stuff (backed up musically by woMANgione and Magic Cyclops) is quite good.
“Smiles that Go Ding” begins with an eerie chord organ drone before quickly switching to an arrangement of a jauntily strummed banjo, glockenspiel and steel guitar. Fasano talks about a roller rink and people wanting to wear labels that cost more than their rent and the weekends when families bombard the streets with strollers and dogs on leashes, “pushing around their accomplishments.” Fasano's stream of conscious style sounds random when certain parts are just plucked out but it works somehow in the context of each song. “Chicago Walk” ostensibly describes various Chicagoans, including an overweight man going to yoga class, stone masons, “pan handlers who only accept dollar bills” and a barista who he can’t tell “if her pants are covered in pigeon shit, or if she’s just wearing acid wash jeans.” “Bar Bar Anthology” has a really beautiful string and brass arrangement that along with Fasano’s descriptive language creates lovely cinematic images in my mind as Fasano “talks to drunks who respect [him.]” An upbeat keyboard line starts off “So Hollywood in KC MO” which is about a man, “he’s a singer, he’s in a rock n’ roll band,” going through various photo shoots and the other demands of being a popular musician. I like the music and the song as a whole though the tempo is a bit too driving for Fasano’s leisurely, somewhat weary delivery.
Nostalgia pops up its head up in “Pretend to be a Man” as Fasano details memories of his childhood pretending to be Rambo while playing capture the flag, “wanting to sing like Huey Lewis and dress like Don Johnson” and remembering how E.T. scared the shit of him. “People I Can’t Trust” has a great dark jazz vibe, giving it a vague slowed down hip-hop feel, and weirdly enough it works really well as Fasano relays a funny story about a drunken news anchor’s wild night. The downer musical vibe carries over to “TJ” but it delves into even darker, dirge-like territory giving a grim tone to Fasano’s adventures down sketchy back alleys in Mexico and depressing philosophical comments like “What do Americans really do in between commercials? My best guess is they open another bag of chips, living life 22 minutes at a time through someone else’s eyes” The tape’s closer, “If I had Money,” is sort of an update of that lame Barenaked Ladies song; Fasano spouts pithy statements like “If I had money, I’d buy a Winnebago for any band that didn’t suck” against a synthwash than veers back and forth between melancholic and euphoric.
Whiskey Won't Cure Clap is definitely an anomaly in my tape collection, but I’m glad it’s there. None of the songs wear out their welcome and it’s nice to just put on and absorb sometimes. Fasano writes well, conjuring up detailed images of numerous characters and situations with ease. Fasano remarks at one point, “Nothing happens here because I’m the only one who notices” which sums his subject matter rather well. Props to him for making “nothing happening” sound interesting. Also, woMANgione and Magic Cyclops deserve a lot credit for the great music they supplied Fasano with. WoMANgione, especially, he/she could seriously do film scores, though that moniker might have be ditched first.
Still available as far as I can tell; the tape comes in an envelope with an insert and download code.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #45 (11/8/09)

Streetworker “20070922” Streetworker [Wheaton 2009] (CS)

Container “Side A” Container [I Just Live Here 2008] (CS)

Swim Ignorant Fire “I Just Got Shot in the Love Handle” Haircuts [No Label 2009] (CD-r)

OVERJOID “Side A (excerpt)” Split with Fight Spider with Spider [Fast Geek Press/Buddha Palm 2009] (CS)

WOOL “Reapo” Шерсть Шерсть Шерсть [Oldturtles Tapes 2009] (CS)

HOU “Brainswell” Reticulating Inner Shade [Auris Apothecary 2009] (CD-r)

Moonflare “Ancient Comet (excerpt)” All the World is Bright with Joy and Magical Delight [Cubic Pyramid 2009] (CD-r)

Analog Concept “Deep Music has Died” Listen Already Today to the Music of Past! [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Little Claw “Frankie” Human Taste [Ecstatic Peace! 2009] (CD)

Scraps “Mountain Problems” Scraps [GGNZLA 2009] (CD-r)

Red Squirrels “My Bike is a Sailboat” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Physical Demon “Pleural Effusion” Split with BRNT [Atonal Microshores 2009] (CD-r)

Walrus Machine “Attic Stains” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Snowstorm “Side B” Snowstorm [Malleable 2008] (7”)

Derek Rogers “Side B” Petit Chapeau [Tape Drift 2009] (CS)

Dragging an Ox through Water “Snowbank Treatment” The Tropics of Phenomenon [Freedom to Spend 2009] (CD)

Lanterns “Divine Slaughter Pavilion” White Lodge [No Label 2009] (CD-r)

Bipolar Bear “Cape Verde” Abstract Distractions [olFactory 2009] (10”)

Cave Bears “Untitled” Jazz Hands [Serf Released 2009] (CS)

Public Bummer “Illegitimate Dad” Project Housing [Monorail Trespassing 2009] (CS)

Mortuus Auris & the Black Hand “Part Two: Buried” Omicida Della Regina/Songs for a Solo Piano [Stunned 2009] (CS)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WOOL - Шерсть Шерсть Шерсть [Oldturtles Tapes]

Spawned earlier this year, the Ukraine-based Oldturtles Tapes has put out three releases thus far, one of which is this tape by WOOL.
It’s seems like the underground has really been embracing electronic music lately, I’ve received a bunch of tapes/CD-rs over the past five months or so that prove it. This tape is one of those. “88” begins with a calm, slowly forming beat and echoing keyboard probably but maybe it’s a guitar? A new melody sounding like muted guitar harmonics leads the track into its next phase with a heavy, synth-bass undertow. The track is quite nice when the beat drops out leaving a glistening looped keyboard. I like all the elements of the piece but it’s not really composed that seamlessly, it kind of jumps section to section without building momentum. The next two are pretty sweet though. The second track “Kafakyak” (these are just my attempted transcriptions into the English alphabet, so I could be messing these titles up) is immediately more grooving. Incorporating live percussion, or samples thereof, the track slinks along confidently on the strength of its rhythms. The melodic elements are very understated which works well because there are hints of melody that make the track flow smoothly but the emphasis is kept on the beat. There are some creepy vocal samples that I could probably do without, but they don’t stop the track from really movin’. “Reapo” carries over the groove but introduces a much more complex, polyrhythmic pattern also sampled from percussion I guessing. There’s a heavily reverbed, drum machined snare hit that provides so much drama and authority to the track; it’s killer, every second or so there’s this massive “wwwwoooooshkkkkkkk”. The “melodic” elements are kept rather minimal, though those elements are mainly a simple synth-bass line and a sample of a weird groan. The track works really well and comes together surprisingly succinctly.
The flipside brings “Hole” with its wobbly Dead Prez-like sub-bass line against a minimal drum machine pattern. The jam slowly expands with a loop of distorted guitar and synthetic chimes. It’s long, slow burn and a cool jam at that. It’s probably the darkest track so far and the echoing vocal samples don’t do anything to dispel that. Out of nowhere WOOL gets all scary and no longer dubstep with “Fuck You We Murder” a mid-tempo grinding rock number which is pretty cool aside from the hushed-screamed vocals and silly lyrics like “I hate you/I want to bury you/One by one”. The last minute and a half is called “3anynk” which is a swirl of fuzz, feedback, voices, a thumping drum and other.
Limited to 50 and still available. Oldturtles peddles their tapes for only 3 bucks not including shipping, so it’s a cheap endeavor to check the label out and c’mon, how many chances do you get to add cool Ukranian dubstep tapes to your collection?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sudden Oak - Causeways of the Sun [Bezoar Formations]

Killer cassette released in the summer by Sudden Oak, San Franciscan guitar/sax duo of John Ward and Matt Erickson (Radiant Husk/Bezoar Formations). I’ve been sitting on this hot little number for far too long.
The first of seven pieces goes straight to the heart of murky psych land. Smoky GHQish vibes abound as fuzzy guitar and fuzzy sax blend into the same hazy cloud. The last minute reveals a great, excellently placed, nearly DJ Primo-esque loop adding a lovely rhythmic bob to all the freeforminess that preceded it. The second piece is less droned, even incorporating some straight up psych-rock guitar melodies. I like the way the sax can kind of hide within the track and then pop out with these tense, vibrant bleats pushing the piece into a different realm. The last piece of the side starts with a rather up front high pitched guitar melody before falling back into a dynamic, beautifully astral stream of sounds.
The first piece from the second side brings in drums out of nowhere. I don’t even know if there’s guitar or sax on here, all I’m hearing is drums and fuzz. It’s an awesome rumble though and breaks up the otherwise percussion-less tape nicely. The next track continues the foray into rhythm with a repetitive guitar strum. That strum builds tension which is further heightened by occasional frantic sax work. The ending is pretty great too, with swarms of angry wasp-styled sounds before rolling a cool short sax melody. The side’s third piece plays things a lot more quietly than anything else on the tape; it’s much airier, looser and eases up on the poisonous, fuzzy fog that drenches everything else. The final piece wanders further from the guitar/sax instrumentatio, using a recording of sloshing water.
The tape is still available from Bezoar Formations, I recommend grabbing it along with Radiant Husk’s Beyond the Endless Swale, since it’s still in print and one of my favs from last year. Causeways of the Sun looks great too, as is usual with Bezoar.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Derek Rogers - Petit Chapeau [Tape Drift]

I’d been hearing a lot about this Derek Rogers guy earlier in the year and late in the summer I got my hands Petit Chapeau along with his also great split with Pummeler on Stunned.
I dig Rogers work because he manages to strike the delicate balance between creating a unified, monolithic force with his drones and avoiding strict minimalism and creating a depth of sound. “Side A” of this tape for instance, depending on the volume you are playing it at or perhaps just how attentive you are listening can seem like a constant, hypnotic flow of sound or a pretty complex, dynamic field of sounds. Both perceptions are great, and hey sometimes it’s nice to have control as a listener like when that record you have sounds even cooler at 45rpm. The sonic palette Rogers uses is fairly dark, in the sense of the color palette of the tape’s cover, rather than “dark” imagery. It’s dense and marshy, and kinda bleeds all over or into itself creating a nearly impenetrable, rumbling wall of fuzz. The wall of fuzz slowly opens up (or lightens up) near the end where everything seems to get a touch lighter in pitch and maybe with a bit of a brighter outlook as well. Which makes me wonder what exactly is it that makes a drone a downer or more uplifting?
I like “Side A” but “Side B” is what really captured my heart. Way more “synth-y,” this thing is just thick and pulsing to no end. The brute force of the low-end drones keeps kicking while Rogers fiddles with some higher pitched modulations further heightening the tension. The piece pounds you into submission in a weird way because it really isn’t noisy or abrasive but it just overpowers and absorbs you into itself. It’s this big fucking ball of sound that you just can’t ignore or avoid; it seeps directly into your brain through your ears whether you like it or not. Against all probability the piece gets even more massive, even more dynamic, and even tenser as it rolls along. I don’t even understand how Rogers does that; is it just a slow application of pressure through imperceptible volume increases or what? I don’t understand it and I’m not gonna argue. We obviously have a master at work here.
Still available as far as I can tell from Eric Hardiman’s (Rambutan) killer Tape Drift imprint and obviously recommended to those who like getting their brains rattled.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cresting – An E.P. [Fixture]

This is a nifty little CD-r EP from Canada’s Fixture Records. It’s the debut of Montreal’s Gabe Ng a.k.a. Cresting.
The record has a breezy feel, but not the typical California breezy feel. It’s more like walking along a beach in the Northeast (or Northwest for that matter) with grey clouds gathered and billowing on the horizon and a chilly wind enveloping you. The atmosphere of the record is definitely important here, as the keyboards and pre-recorded drumbeats are wrapped in gauzy lo-fi production values to great effect.
The first track “A Bottom Hill” is based around a shuffling drum machine and stuttering keyboard. The melody sort of wobbles around, never fully repeating a clear cycle, but being more of a collection of random fragments with a similar theme in mind. “Sprained Ankle” is my favorite cause it’s a bit of a feel good number. A jaunty descending/ascending melody bounces along through the fogginess of the record bringing a brief, upbeat ray of sunshine amongst the clouds. “Variation on a Variation” builds around a number of short loops of guitar and keyboard and gets increasing askew and disjointed as it moves along. “Sashes” almost comes out like a twee hip hop beat. A groovy drumbeat and some keyboard-on-the-vibraphone-setting noodling. It’s a cool track but it’s really the addition of another organ melody halfway through and that really seals it. It’s a jam I like more and more each time I listen.
Ng then gets more abstract with “Crow’s Call” which moves on a couple seasick keyboard loops before bringing in drum machine and touches of harmonica half way through. The song turns into one of the more understated and unexpected grooves of the disc. The closer “Squared Feet” layers a bunch of rhythmic piano lines on top of each other forming yet another nice groove, but more organically and more complexly this time. It doesn’t feel like long before it’s over, which can be said of the disc as a whole as well. The CD makes for particularly pleasant listening now that we’re in the midst of Autumn.
The disc is still in print and available from the Fixture website.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #44 (11/1/2009)

Sun Araw “Luther” In Orbit [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Russian Tsarlag “The Master’s Speech” Split with Lesson Lesson Lessen Relearn [West Palm Beotch 2009] (7”) **played at 45rpm

Waterside Gala “Scotch and Soda” Composure & Recreation [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS)

Cresting “Sprained Ankle” An EP [Fixture 2009] (CD-r)

Super Minerals “Clusters 3” Clusters [Stunned 2009] (CS)

The Uzi Rash Group “Bella Donna” Erotic Terror Beats the Drums of the Republic [Jerkwave Tapes 2009] (CS)

Sky Limousine “Untitled” Midnight Heat [Excite Bike Tapes 2009] (CS)

Charly “the city mouse” Fasano “Chicago Walk” Whiskey Won’t Cure Clap [Fast Geek Press 2009] (CS)

Abolicao “Side B” Flowering Judas [Cabin Floor Esoterica 2009] (CS)

Crash Normal “Hairy Wine 2” Finger Shower [Rijapov 2009] (10”)

Totally Dad “Creeks” Two Hearts [Obsolete Units 2007] (CD)

Floris Vanhoof “Paranormaalabamba” La Bamba [Ultra Eczema 2009] (LP)

White Crime “Teen Horror” White Crime [Faux Pas 2009] (CS)

Sean McCann “Ice Age Tea” Phylum Sigh [DNT/Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS/CD)

Fabric “And a Borrowed Shirt” Late Clothes/Blue Doorways I-III [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Sudden Oak “Untitled” Causeways of the Sun [Bezoar Formations 2009] (CS)

Millipede “Milky Way” Traveling [Sunrise Acoustics/Imperfect Music 2009] (CD-r)

Emuul “Whatever Pushes Back (Take 2)” Omicida Della Regina/Songs for a Solo Piano [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Size “El Diablo en el Cuerpo” El Diablo en el Cuerpo 1978-1984 [Broad Tapes 2008] (CS)

The German Measles “Mosco Street” Demos Sorry [Captured Tracks 2009] (CS)

Lesson Lesson Lessen Relearn “Ultra Cultural Bummer” Split with Russian Tsarlag [West Palm Beotch 2009] (7”)